Unreal 4.11 brings Paragon tech, DirectX 12 on Xbox One, physics-based shading

Threading architecture improvements, cloth simulation, quicker garbage collection and animation tweaks among optimisations on show in upcoming PC and PS4 MOBA
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Epic has released a hefty slew of changes and additions for its Unreal Engine.

Among the improvements in Unreal Engine 4.11 are a number of tech tweaks and performance bumps built for Epic’s upcoming MOBA Paragon.

These include parallelisation for multicore scaling, with Unreal’s threading architecture reducing the cost of creating tasks and streamlining synchronisation points. Unreal’s renderer has similar had synchronisation points removed to minimise overhead on the GPU.

In addition, garbage collection can now be operated in ‘clusters’, combining multiple objects as a single group, and marking and destroying is said to be up to nine times faster than in previous versions.

A number of animation improvements have also been added. These include multi-threaded animation for Animation Graph updates, the ability to fast-track variable access and support for baked additive animations, which is claimed to make additive animation use three times quicker by calculating delta pose at cook time instead of run time.

More generally, version 4.11 sees the introduction of physically-based shading models for more realistic hair, eyes and cloth, while the quality and performance of skin shading has also been boosted.

Devs can also opt to record an animation of a skeletal mesh during live gameplay and save it as an Anim Sequence asset, which can then be used in-engine or exported to a third-party tool as an FBX.

Regarding platform support, Epic has updated all of its VR SDKs to ensure that every Unreal Engine 4 title is ‘VR ready’ in time for the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

As well as this, experimental support for DirectX 12 on Xbox One has been added, as well as native compatibility with Metal on Mac, which becomes the default graphics API for OS X El Capitan – replacing OpenGL.

See the extensive list of 4.11 changes on the Unreal website.

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